Best Places to Live

Athens, GA

Population: 128,584
Photo: Andy Payne

AthFest, a five-day festival that began in 1997, celebrates the storied music and art scene in Athens, GA. During the festival, organizers transform downtown Athens into a carnival for the senses.

"I like to think of AthFest as an amazing snapshot of our unique town, kind of the greatest hits of Athens all in one week," says Jared Bailey, AthFest founder and executive director. "Unlike many large music festivals, our focus is almost entirely on local talent. During the festival, you can sample so many aspects of what makes Athens such a wonderful place."

While most of the action takes place near large stages on Washington Street between the famed 40 Watt Club and Morton Theatre, several music venues participate in what is known as the club crawl, which allows patrons to flow in and out of approximately 20 clubs to catch a variety of artists. The best-known artists, many hailing from Athens or other Georgia cities, perform free shows on one of three outdoor stages. Local restaurants vend popular dishes throughout the festival, but be warned, getting a table at some of Athens' best restaurants like Trappeze Pub or The Grit can be an adventure during festival days.

AthFest proceeds go to AthFest Educates!, a group dedicated to music and arts education in Athens, which provides grants and scholarships to schools.

When: June

What: 200 bands, 20 club crawl venues, three outdoor stages, more than 50 local and regional artists and craftsmen, kids' area, film fest, music video fest, comedy fest, dance fest

Cost: $20 for unlimited access to participating venues. Outdoor stage shows are free.

Average Attendance: 60,000+

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